Patriotism: History and Politics of a Keyword

Mary G. Dietz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


“Patriotism” is a relatively young word in relation to other rhetorical terms of western political discourse; but its cognate “patriot” and that word’s etymological root in appeals to “patria” have antiquarian beginnings. Considering the various historical manifestations of the term, the purposes of this essay are threefold. The first aims briefly to track the appearance of the term “patriot” through uses and appeals to its etymological root “patria” in classical, medieval, and early modern political thought. The second endeavors to examine the fortunes and “reversibility” of the term within Anglo-American partisan political rhetorics of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with particular attention to Whig and Tory discourses in England, the American revolutionary period of “patriots” and “loyalists,” and the brief efflorescence of radical egalitarian patriot rhetoric among the English Chartists, soon to be swallowed up by discourses of nationalism linked to the imperialist programs of the British nation-state. Finally, from a perspective between past and future, the chapter concludes with some observations about “patriotism” that underscore its existence not as a philosophical concept but as a rhetorical term of discourse persistently embedded in politics and the relations of power. Understanding even a brief history of the term may therefore bear significantly upon the capacities that contemporary citizens possesses for being able to distinguish between appeals to “patriot acts” that threaten to destroy rather than vitalize political freedom, individual rights, and the social equality of the body politic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of Patriotism
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9783319544847
ISBN (Print)9783319544830
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Belonging
  • Country
  • Identity
  • Nation
  • Nationalism
  • Patria
  • Patriot
  • Patriotism
  • Politics
  • Revolution
  • Rhetoric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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